Aid & Human Rights Decoupling

The latest article from my Developing Conformity research project has been published in The Sociological Quarterly. Co-authored with Dr. Qian Wei, the article examines the relationship of bilateral foreign aid flows to human rights decoupling in aid-receiving countries.

ABSTRACT

Despite extensive literature examining human rights decoupling between treaty commitments and practices, little research has addressed how to fill these empty promises. This paper proposes a mechanism neglected in prior studies that might play an important role in narrowing human rights decoupling and improving world society model compliance: foreign aid. Using longitudinal analysis on a sample of 120 aid-receiving countries between 1981 and 2011, we find: total aid has a significant effect on reducing human rights decoupling; aid to good governance shows a similar pattern but the impact is much weaker; by contrast, aid to human rights has limited influence.

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Foreign Aid & the Rule of Law

Andrew Dawson (York University, Glendon Campus) and I have published the latest article from the Developing Conformity project in the British Journal of Sociology. The article is available to all via open access.

This article uses a World Society theory framework to test the effects of foreign aid on both the diffusion of rule of law reforms and the implementation of the rule of law in low- and middle-income aid-receiving countries. Access the article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-4446.12752

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the role of bilateral foreign aid in supporting the diffusion and enactment of common models and institutions of the rule of law among aid‐recipient low‐ and middle‐income countries. We ask whether aid targeted at security‐sector reform and the rule of law influences the adoption of constitutional and legal reforms over time (institutional diffusion), and whether aid also supports more effective implementation of the rule of law, writ large (legal reach). We use event history and fixed‐effects panel regression models to examine a sample of 154 countries between 1995 and 2013 to answer these questions. Our findings suggest that aid does increase the likelihood of adopting several rule of law reforms, but its effect on increasing the depth or quality of rule of law over time within countries is much less substantial. These findings suggest that though aid may play a role in supporting the diffusion of models contributing to state isomorphism among countries, it is less effective at increasing the pervasiveness and quality of such model’s implementation. This discrepancy between the effectiveness of bilateral aid in promoting law on the books versus law in action in aid recipient countries calls into question the current approach to rule of law reforms.

Aid, Norms, & World Society Workshop

On May 15 & 16, the Katë Hamburger Kolleg Centre for Global Cooperation is hosting a workshop I have organized on foreign aid, norms, and the World Society.

Bringing together sociologists, political scientists, economists, and other development scholars studying foreign aid from an institutionalist perspective, the workshop is intended to be a starting point for discussion of how to better understand aid through a World Society lens (the focus of my Developing Conformity research project).

Many thanks to the Katë Hamburger Kolleg Centre for Global Cooperation and their events team for generously supporting this event.

For more information about the workshop, check out the preliminary schedule below:

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Aid Networks & Global Ties

This article was recently accepted for publication in Social Science Research. In it, I explore the relationship between aid ties and other global ties to international actors. Complementing some of my earlier research on this subject, it shows that the more tied to world society a country is, the more donors will provide it bilateral aid.

Here is the abstract:

This article examines competing explanations for foreign aid allocation on the global level and argues for a new approach to understanding aid from an institutionalist perspective. Using network data on all official bilateral aid relationships between countries in the period from 1975 through 2006 and data on recipient country ties to world society, the article offers an alternative explanation for the allocation of global foreign aid. Fixed effects negative binomial regression models on a panel sample of 117 developing countries reveal that global ties to world society in the form of non-governmental memberships and treaty ratifications are strong determinants of the network centrality of recipient countries in the global foreign aid network. Countries with a higher level of adherence and connection to world society norms and organizations are shown to be the beneficiaries of an increased number of aid relationships with wealthy donor countries. The findings also suggest that prior explanations of aid allocation grounded in altruist or realist motivations are insufficient to account for the patterns of aid allocation seen globally in recent years.

UPDATE: The advance copy of this article is now available on the SSR site: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2016.09.011

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